Sunday, December 8, 2013

Hidden Retail Treasures

There are hidden retail gems all over the city. Sometimes you have to look beyond the expected places to find them. All too often you have to rely on word of mouth to even know about such places.

As Christmas is coming, I will mentioned two places in one mall that could be helpful in filling a few stockings. First, let's identify the mall: It is Grant Park Shopping Centre.

Yes, that mall.

I have written about the renovations that have been happening over the last number of years to the mall. It seems like the place has been under constant construction. This was to accommodate three different stores making very large expansions. The Liquor Mart, Shopper's Drug Mart and Target all have made huge additions inside the mall.

The arrival of Target in particular boosted mall management's need to re-configure stores inside. Some stores like Hangers closed not only at Grant Park but all over the city. It could not have been an easy time knowing that at least three years of work to the 1962 built mall was forecast and somehow business still needed to be done.

With Target's opening, it looks very much like the bulk of the mall has reached completion. However, aside from the amazing McNally-Robinson, what is at Grant Park that you couldn't find anywhere else? This is not to dis the big stores but truly, you don't drive across town to a new Liquor Mart.

Well, for those still looking for gifts from Christmas, look to Grant Park for Entertainment Exchange and Pylon.

The Entertainment Exchange is a used CD and DVD place that has seen a few locations in the mall and at one time had four location across the city. The owner, former Record Baron proprietor, has kept the shop going since the very late 1990s. The demise of Rogers and Blockbuster video stores has only increased the need for a specialty store like this.

Despite what people say, DVD and CD players did not completely die in favour of digital downloads and Netflix.

I am not going to argue with those that suggest it is a waste to buy used CDs and DVDs though. Like vinyl records, the medium attracts a following. And to be honest, not everyone has access to high speed Internet or the devices to download. A cheap DVD player and a cheap DVD attached to a cheap TV is a lot cheaper than paying or even having available...high speed Internet access.

This is where Entertainment Exchange is amazing. There are older and more recent CDs and DVDs selling for very affordable prices. On a recent visit, I saw a very inexpensive copy of second season of Homeland which just came out this year. Want the whole Star Wars Clone Wars series? It is here. Filling out your Billy Joel CD collection, find it here.

Not surprisingly, the word exchange in the name is accurate. If you are in fact a guy who has gone all digital and have a huge collection of DVDs you are looking to sell, I expect you will find a buyer at the store. Or perhaps you are angry at Family Guy for killing off the dog Brian and want to dump all seasons of the show as a show of solidarity with the dearly departed, I am sure you will find solace with Entertainment Exchange.

There are so many older TV series on DVD, music CDs of every genre and hard to find stuff that it is difficult to do it justice. Suffice to say, bring your stuff in and find stuff at one of the few stores in the city that changes every time you go in.

The other store in Grant Park that is a real treasure is Pylon. Yes, I know that they have a location in The Forks but not everyone has been there or seen it. It is highly likely that Pylon in Grant Park is set the take off now that mall renovations are done.

What is Pylon? Well, if you love pop culture, you will love Pylon. They sell Marilyn Monroe items, they have everything Doctor Who, Dexter, Halloween, Star Wars and beyond. Belt buckles, bobbleheads and baubles are in every corner of the store. It is pop culture mana from heaven.

If you are looking for a quirky clock, it is here. Want a stuffed Doctor Who toy. Here. Something to hang on the wall? They have it.

I expect those people who love the trinkets of Comic Con will love Pylon.

Okay folks, here's the best part. The stores I mention are locally run. If you want to run a triple header of Winnipeg stores then McNally, Entertainment Exchange and Pylon fits the bill. But walk around a bit more in the newly renovated mall, there are a few new stores, a few more local and a few old but trusted stores.

And pass word about hidden treasures because without that word, they could simply just disappear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this article. I routinely head to GP mall, but mostly for either groc at Sway or lit at McNally.. had no idea about these shops you highlighted in your article..

Will check out this to start xmas gift hunt sometime!